Racing 101 - Overview for First Time Parents

Race Events

Slalom (SL) – Slalom is a timed event requiring the execution of many short, quick turns through two different courses. The slalom features the shortest course and quickest turns. As in the giant slalom, each skier makes two runs down two different courses on the same slope. The competitors are required to pass between all the gates, alternate red/blue pairs of poles. Both runs take place on the same day. The times are added together, and the fastest total time determines the winner.


Giant Slalom (GS) – Giant slalom is characterized as the discipline that requires the most technical skill: skiers race down the mountain through a faster and more open course than in Slalom. Giant slalom is similar to the slalom, with fewer, but wider and smoother turns. Each skier makes two runs down two different courses on the same slope. Both runs take place on the same day, usually with the first run held in the morning and the second run in the afternoon. The times are added together, and the fastest total time determines the winner.


Super-G (SG) – Super G (super giant slalom) combines the elements of speed from the downhill, while integrating high speed technical turns from the giant slalom. The course is shorter than downhill but longer than a giant slalom course. Each skier makes one run down a single course and the fastest time determines the winner. This race discipline is not held in New Jersey, but sometimes offered as an optional race at the regionals.


Downhill (DH) – The downhill event features the longest course and the highest speeds in alpine skiing. Racers attempt to record the fastest time during a single run with a minimum number of control gates. This race discipline is never held in New Jersey.


Kombi (K) - The Kombi consists of a mixture of standard turns and gates. The event meets developmental needs for this age group, creating a tactical awareness by blending sections of different gates in a flowing, rhythmical, constantly changing pattern.

Basic Race Equipment

Helmet – Hard sided helmet, for athletes U14 and older it must have a FIS sticker on the back. Refer to Helmet Regulations

Boots – Athletes should be able to flex the ankle with a boot fully buckled. In general, U8/U10/12/U14 racers will want to have boots in the 60 – 100 range of the flex index. Stronger, heavier U16/U19 racers wear stiffer boots, usually somewhere between an 80 – 130 flex. Boots will always be softer in the shop than on the snow. We recommend working with a professional boot fitter to get the best fit and flex.

Skis – U10-U12 one pair of junior GS or SL race skis preferred, stiff flex race skis not needed. U14 and older one pair of GS and one pair of SL skis. Refer to Equipment Regulations

Shin & Arm Guards – SL specific. U10-U12 not necessary but recommended. U14 and older its highly recommended.

Chin Guard – SL specific.

Back protection – Recommended for all racers.

Poles & Guards – Poles with guards recommended for all racers. U14 and older its highly recommended.

Race Suit – Nice but not necessary, although most all racers do have them.

At least one week before the race

Register for each race at by Monday to avoid late fees. You will need your child’s USSA number the first time you register. Remember, you only need to register with USSA once per year to renew his/her racing license. (see above pre-season registrations)


Make a plan to tune your race skis: make sure your racer’s skis are race tuned the night before the race.


LABEL EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF EQUIPMENT AND CLOTHING WITH YOUR CHILD’S NAME! One thing that helps is a piece of uniquely colored duck tape placed on every item so your child can easily find his stuff in the pile.

Night before the race

Ensure skis are race tuned, bag packed (extra socks, neck, gaiter, hand and foot warmers and prepare for changes in weather), eat a good dinner and get a good night’s sleep. Older racers also bring a second pair of skis to use as “slip skis.” Parents and other spectators should have warm clothing and sturdy snow boots.

Morning of the race

Arrive early, while race start time may be 9am typically, intend to arrive at least 2 hours before to register. At registration, each racer will receive a bib, lift ticket and start list. They should then boot up. This year all racers U14 and older must have a FIS sticker on their helmets for GS races. GS suits are optional. For slalom races, chin guards are mandatory and most older racers have shin and pole guards (If it is a GS race – no chin guards!) Many younger racers never get close enough to the slalom gates to need shin and pole guards…


After booting up and following the coaches meeting, the racers should look for their coach for course inspection. During course inspection, racers will be taken through the course twice in small, coach-supervised groups which is called ‘slipping the course’.


Depending on the start order, racers may want to have something to eat while waiting. It’s a good idea to bring a variety of healthy snacks, sandwiches and bottles of water (at NWAC racers will be fed). Some families bring larger food items to share and plastic tablecloths.

Race – Run 1

The 1st Run race order is usually youngest ages to oldest as follows: U10 Girls – U10 Boys – U12 Girls – U12 Boys etc. Within each group, racers will go from lowest bib # to highest bib #. Racers must keep track of position (bib) number. Coaches will be at top of race positioning racers for start, in the middle of the course to identify/communicate any trouble spots, and at the end of the course to provide feedback and encouragement. At the end of the 1st run, racers can retrieve their slip skis and go back inside the lodge for quick snack/lunch. A volunteer will carry down jackets and pants in a bag and leave them near the finish.


Parents can keep track of the unofficial race results at USSA Live-Timing. Just search for state, host mountain, and race/run that your child is participating.

Race – Run 2

The 2nd Run course inspection will begin approximately 20-30 minutes after last racer of 1st run and follow the same procedure as the 1st course inspection. The course is often reset for the 2nd run…so pay attention! As in the 1st run, race order is usually as follows: U10 Girls – U10 Boys – U12 Girls – U12 Boys. But now, within each group, racers will go from highest bib # to lowest bib #. Racers must keep track of position (bib) number. For U16 and up this is completely different, often top 15 flipped go first. Once racer has completed their 2nd run and returned their bib, they’re free to collect their slip skis, leave/ski/eat or cheer on your teammates!